GOSPEL REFLECTION: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 15th July 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
First Reading: Amos 7:12-15
Responsorial Psalm: Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
GOSPEL: Mark 6:7-13
Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
Jesus said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
So the twelve went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
In today’s Gospel text, St. Mark relates to us that Jesus summoned his twelve apostles to send them to a mission i.e. to preach the Good News, cure the sick, cast out demons and to ask people to repent. I could almost imagine how the apostles must have felt at that time. After they were trained and have witnessed the marvelous works of Jesus, now they were being sent to do the same. Some of them, maybe anxious to do their mission, others might be so excited and still, others might be somewhat apprehensive. Yes, they had listened to Jesus’ preaching. They had seen him performed healing. They had witnessed Jesus casting demons out of people. But to do them by themselves must have been for the apostles a bit overwhelming. Yet, they trusted Jesus completely. They knew that Jesus had confidence that they could carry out the mission entrusted to them.
But how is this account of commissioning the apostles relevant to us today? Well, it tells us that the work of evangelization must continue till today. It would be erroneous to think that the mission to evangelize is only for the clergy, bishops, religious and missionaries. Every baptized person has a duty to spread the good news. In fact, at home, parents should be the first missionaries to their children. It is their obligation to bring their children to the faith. The Church teaches that lay people have a distinct and very real role in the spreading of the Gospel. The Church also teaches that in dignity laity are absolutely equal to the ordained ministers as far as carrying out the duty to evangelize is concerned.
It is quite interesting to reflect on the instructions Jesus gave to his apostles as they set out to do the mission. First, the apostles were sent two by two. There must be something special about the number two. Jesus did not send them one by one, but two by two. The number two for me indicate the importance of community. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there am I in their midst.”
Then Jesus ordered them not to take anything with them but a staff, no food, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. I think not only did Jesus wants for his apostles to travel light, but he also wants them to learn to trust God completely who would provide them for everything they need, even their basic needs. Jesus wants them also to learn to trust in the goodness of the people.
Doing Jesus’ mission is not gonna be easy. A missionary should never expect to always receive a positive response from the people. Some people will reject us because we represent Jesus on earth. And Jesus knew this reality that is why he instructed the apostles, “If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Jesus did not say that we should condemn those who reject his word. He only said to shake the dust off our feet. Shaking the dust off for me means to move forward. Shaking off the dust means to leave the place quietly, to forget everything and not to be disappointed. Indeed, many people will reject yet somewhere there are people who will listen, accept and embrace the faith. If as a missionary you are rejected then just shake off the dust from that village, do not bring a souvenir not even the dust that is on your feet, then move on and make a fresh start. Never dwell too long on your disappointments. And do not let failure let you down. Remember the captain of the ship is Jesus. We are only his servants.
Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.”
Will you allow God to use you to carry out the mission for the salvation of the world? Are you willing to make the difference?
As God’s Worker in his vineyard, I could only pray with the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light, where there is sadness, joy.
O , Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.